Medicare Copays For New Alzheimer's Drug Could Reach $11,500 Annually

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Some advisors to the Food and Drug Administration have quit over the drug which critics say has questionable benefits. The FDA said it can reduce clumps of plaque in the brain and may slow dementia.
Medicare Copays For New Alzheimer's Drug Could Reach $11,500 Annually

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WASHINGTON — A new $56,000-a-year Alzheimer's drug would raise Medicare premiums broadly, and some patients who are prescribed the medication could face copayments of about $11,500 annually, according to a research report published Thursday.

The drug, called Aduhelm, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration this week and quickly sparked controversy over its price-tag and questionable benefits.

It's the first Alzheimer's medication in nearly 20 years, though it doesn't cure the life-sapping neurological condition. The FDA determined that its ability to reduce clumps of plaque in the brain is likely to slow dementia. But many experts, including the agency's own advisers, say that benefit has not been clearly shown.

On Thursday, a third member of an FDA advisory panel that opposed the drug resigned over the agency's decision. Last November the 11-member group voted nearly unanimously against recommending approval for the medication, citing flaws and missing data in company studies. The FDA is not required to follow the group's advice.

Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a medical researcher at Harvard University, said in a resignation letter obtained by The Associated Press that the FDA's recent approval decisions would undermine public trust, medical innovation "and the affordability of the health care system." Earlier in the week two expert neurologists also quit the panel.

The new analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation comes as congressional Democrats are trying to build consensus around legislation that would empower…
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